Paradoxes of Democracy I: Undermining Trust, Research Time, 21/03/2018

So I’m working on a white paper on democratic governance for a small Toronto think tank this week. It’s a format I’m still getting accustomed to, but I’m hammering out the first draft right now to get my ideas and arguments clear. Then I’ll wrangle it into the step-by-step format the group needs.

The bulk of the paper is a discussion of the reasons why popular mobilization is both central to democracy and an incredible danger to it. Since online social media is a powerful facilitator of revolutionary mobilization, I’m going to propose a brief policy framework to make sure such mobilization doesn’t too easily get hijacked by reactionary or fascist ideas.

A little late, I know. But all policy ultimately becomes catchup in a contingent world.

See, when I’m talking about revolutionary mobilization, I’m not just talking about the Arab Spring, or Black Lives Matter, or the Stoneman Douglas movement for gun control. I’m also talking about pro-Russian conspiracy mongering about Ukraine, and Pizzagate.

The fascists of kleptocracy. One successful for nearly a decade in that
mode. One is still getting started, so might actually be stopped.
You typically can’t equivocate these. My own sympathies are clear. I’m no fan of Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin, but if you’re going to understand the mobilizations on their behalf, you have to do something that a lot of us on the progressive side are uncomfortable with.

You have to understand why a fanatical Trumpist believes themselves on the morally right and just side of America’s political conflict.

Get yourself into the headspace of someone who really believes that Barack Obama installed authoritarian communist loyalists throughout the United States government, which Hillary Clinton systematically looted, and that Donald Trump is the saviour of American virtue fighting corruption at all levels of society.

No one is mobilized without believing their own mission to be the right one. In this example, they’re part of the group of Americans defending Donald Trump while he cleans up the corruption of the Democratic Party.

I think completely differently. But I share faith in a virtue – that democratic society demands governance based on trust. Trumpists have seen a betrayal of that trust, and are fighting to restore it.

The framework of their revolution is admirable. It’s the content I have a problem with, but the content has its own problems.

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